Islam And The Western World – Part 2

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Hamza Yusuf

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evangelical friends, just think that way, because you look at the life of Jesus, it was a life of selflessness that was laid his life down. For others. It wasn't kind of saying, I've got the answer, and you don't. It was like, caring for people. And you look at the whole New Testament narrative, and I think of when I love, I'm going to shut up after this unless you really hold for, but I'm going to shut up on this last one. But I love when I was reading the books, Book of Acts in the New Testament, where Paul

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came to Athens. And I thought, This is so cool what he did. You know, here were the Athenian people who were obviously in loved philosophic dispute, and they were very religious people. And instead of coming into town said, you know, everybody, I've got the truth, you're all losers come follow me. He didn't say that. He said, you know, you've been worshipping 13, gods, the sun and the moon, all these things. And there's one God, that's an unknown guy. I'm here to tell you about that one. But he was respectful about their commitment to their belief system, their faith. And I guess what I longed to see on my side are people that are followers of Christ, that that really recapture a

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pretty powerful notion all through the old New Testament, For God so loved the world. I mean, I mean, he gave us life so that people could live and I, I feel like so much of it is, is you know, we're berating others and doing things. So I'm, I'm back to that thing. I love what I the theme and the old the New Testament. You know, the great commandment when the lawyer came up to Jesus and said, What's the great commandment? He said, it's the love of God with your heart, soul, strength and mind. That's something I think we can all agree on. But what's interesting about that, it isn't that I'm supposed to get you to love God. I'm supposed to love God. When I am focused on myself,

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there's a humility there, that that changes everything. Here's the most humble man I've met over here. Amman, Majid, he's my, he's my leader. But

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you know, it strikes me when we do that, when we humble ourselves, then we're open to people and ideas and thing, when we're arrogant, stiff neck, I think that's when we get into trouble. So I think, at least in my head, I want to recapture the notion of God so loved the world. He didn't say I just loving Christians or Jews, it's every person, every place just we're supposed to love with abandoned selflessness. And the other is the humility to say, I've got to change me, I've got to change today. And that, that is powerful, and little and big ways. It's it says in this and I think it's in the Psalms, and the pride cometh before a fall. You know, the whole idea of pride gets

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countries in trouble, the arrogance of certain things that we do, and in our foreign policy A lot of times, so many times is driven by hubris and arrogance. And it seems like a great starting point is humility. So anyway, I share that there's a there's a op ed piece when we started this thing, Akbar who loves to get things out in the press all the time. I'm a little bit the opposite on this, but he I said, Why don't we do an op ed piece that describes our unique relationship? So we brought one here for you if you have this, this kind of describes what we're trying to do with Buxton, and I think the unique characteristic, we're trying to figure out how to be friends on the journey, and

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that does by being friends and really loving one another doesn't mean you're compromising it means you're being friends and caring and open to learning. So anyway,

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that's my opening thought.

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So

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I brought some other friends here in case I ran out of ammunition now

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don't shoot.

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Me will send them to SEMA. What a hotel enough for

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him. Thank you. First of all, for just coming. I always time is very precious. And the older you get, the more precious it gets, because you're very aware of the grains of sand that are passing through

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your hourglass that is definitely a measurable number. So I'm always very thankful for people that are willing to just come and sit down and and listen to what I have to say. One of the the teachers of Yemen Shambala, dad went to a village and he was very renowned scholar.

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And after the dawn prayer, he came out and just the whole village came out to greet him and he stayed and shook every single person's hand. And when when they were leaving, his companion said to him, share him dollar, they would have been happy if you just gave them all one Salaam You didn't have to spend

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So much time and he said, the reason that they did that is they thought that I was a good man and shouldn't I assume the same about them.

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So it's an honor always to have an audience.

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In terms of what I want to talk about, I would like to talk a little bit about Islam in America.

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A lot of people aren't aware many Americans are aware that Islam has always been in America, we Muslims came here with Columbus. There's even some evidence that there were pre Columbian Muslims here also. But certainly even in De Soto a picture that hangs here in Washington DC.

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In de Soto's discovery of the Mississippi, the picture has a Muslim in the actual painting just to indicate the presence of Muslims, we tend to forget that Spain was Muslim for almost 800 years, and there were Muslims in Spain. The Inquisition officially closed in the 19th century. And there were Muslims that were actually prosecuted in Spain up to the late 18th century

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in the Horace mountains, so Islam has been a European phenomenon. And it's certainly been an American phenomenon. The most recent studies indicate that probably around one fifth of the slaves that were brought to the Americas were Muslim at certain periods of history. Sylveon duve, who wrote servants of Allah indicates that she believes that there were probably about 3 million Muslims. George Washington in a letter that he wrote to one of his

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he, I guess he was a gofer, really, he wanted him to purchase some slaves, off of boats that had arrived. And he said they may be Christians mohammedans Actually, he said Mohammed is first which William James would have considered significant. He said, mohammedans, Christians, atheists,

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as long as they have a good countenance and good character, so he was an equal opportunity slaver.

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But I thought it was interesting that he said Mohammed sins, because we know that there were Muslim slaves here. They were often educated, the prince is going to err. This year on PBS, I think in February, about a Muslim slave narrative. He ended up meeting the President United States, and

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had an extraordinary experience in the US and ended up going back there were several Muslim slaves, who were so articulate and well educated, they ended up finagling their way back to their homelands, one of them cinnamon, Ben IU, who

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learned English in about three months. And he was a trained theologian. And they were so surprised at his the his arguments of why God was not three, as opposed to one that the Unitarians actually started having him go and give lectures to the Trinitarian Christians. So he ended up going back to England. And he was a parlor star for a while, and then he went back to his native Senegal. So you have, I'll just acknowledge the honorable

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Do you want to? Well, I don't want to stop you in the middle of a sentence.

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So I will I come.

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And I was Ellen, welcome.

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Thank you for coming to this most important

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discussion. You know, on the hill. It's rare that a day goes by that there's something that there's not something in the in the either the hill or the splashing post or some of the media talking about the Muslim world, and its relationship to the United States, issues around security, things like this. In fact, it's all too common of a subject. And yet it feels that we don't have a firmer grasp on the subject matters we should have. And yet it feels even though it's a constant

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topic of conversation that we don't know much about.

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Islam, we don't know much about the Muslim world. We don't know much about each other as Americans as we come from the various faith traditions that we come from. And yet we see people trying to make steps toward goodwill. During this last Ramadan season, we had a very, we had I think we had it we had a good a good representation of the Muslim community. We had several iftaar events here on Capitol Hill also with the White House and in Pentagon, and also the house for the first time first time passed a resolution recognizing and commemorating

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Ramadan itself. And still.

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And still, if I may just inject a note of realism, that that's allowed, right.

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You know, we see we have seen

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members of Congress make comments like there's too many mosques in America. And we have seen things of that nature and worse. And so while not trying to sort of bring us down, we all want to stay positive. I don't think it's him. I think in order to have a productive and fruitful conversation, we ought to talk about some of the some of the real issues too. And so with that, I want to

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return the microphone back to Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and apologize for being late, I do have an excuse. We were in the middle of votes. And that fundamentally is my job around here. So head to head to do that. But again, thank you all for coming. Welcome to you all. And I'll return the microphone back.

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And while I'm sure the good people of your district in Minnesota be happy that they have a congressman that actually does show up in votes.

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My family's from Minnesota as well. I don't know if you knew that my father was born in Duluth.

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And and Chisholm. Chisholm, Minnesota is named after my great grandfather founded that city.

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He was an iron ore, kind of, he honed most of the Iron Range

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that the Iron Range had Minnesota is notorious for producing some of the scrappiest toughest people in Minnesota. So I'm not surprised at the shape comes from there.

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I just have to get in on this. I went to a Vikings game once.

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So I you know, I was just talking about Islam in America and the fact that Muslims have been here from the start. And we tend to forget that there was also an immense amount of interest in Islam in early America. And I would argue that many of the founding fathers and possibly mothers to Abigail was certainly a brilliant woman. And john quincy is john quincy adams because of his mother more than his father.

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The the,

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they had the Quran in their libraries, the sale port on which I have an original copy, if they wouldn't let you use it, I would let you borrow mine. It's the same year 1730 for sale Quran is actually reasonably good Quran. They many of them had read the autobiography, the biography of the Prophet Mohammed, there were several biographies available. Benjamin Franklin mentions in his autobiography about a group of prisoners that were captured by Christians in Georgia who were Christian Indians who surrendered in goodwill, and they were massacred. And it was quite a story and upset a lot of people because they were so badly treated. And Benjamin Franklin in his autobiography

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said they would have been better off surrendering to Mohammed ins, because ever since Khalid was rebuked by the prophet, Muslims have never mistreated prisoners. And I thought that was just a very interesting because it's a very well known story in the Muslim

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tradition, but for Benjamin Franklin to make an obscure reference like that, and assume that his reader knew what he was talking about, I think is is very telling. George Bush, the Reverend George Bush, who is a direct

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descendant of

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the current president was wrote a biography of the Prophet, unfortunately, rather mediocre and not very accurate, but nonetheless. So George Bush, and that's his name, did write one. There were also a lot of plays, there were a lot of plays. Many of the Christian abolitionists used white slavery in the Muslim world, as a case against slavery here that on the one hand, we attack the mohammedans and accused them of capturing Americans and enslaving them. And yet we do the same thing. The only crime of the Algerians is that it's not race

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that is determining the slavery, it's just simply that they're, they're captured. So they use that as a point, just say, we're complete hypocrites, because we were always denouncing white slavery in the Barbary Coast, and yet we won't denounce black slavery in in Africa and the Caribbean that's coming into the United States. So most of There was also a lot of,

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I think, intrigue and there was a period in the 1830s where